How to Infuse Olive Oil

How to Infuse Olive Oil

Boost olive oil’s flavor and aroma by using heat or time to mingle the oil with herbs and spices.



Whether you want to drizzle it, cook with it or give it to a friend, flavor-infused olive oil is an easy project to do in your own kitchen. Here’s how to get started.

Infused Olive Oil: Made with Heat
For infused olive oil you can use right away, heat it on a cooktop or range before bottling.

Tip: There are no exact measurements for the oil and flavorings because everyone’s taste is different. As a place to start, aim for filling the glass container with about 80 percent olive oil and 20 percent flavoring ingredient.

Ingredients
Glass bottles or jars with tight seals (screw-band lid, cap, or new sterilized corks)
Blender (optional)
Medium-size pan
Flavoring ingredient: herbs, spices, nuts or citrus peel (see tips below)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fine-mesh strainer
Funnel

Instructions

  1. Wash the glass containers and lids in hot soapy water, and then sanitize them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Use tongs to dip corks in boiling water several times. Let all bottling components drip dry on paper towels
  2. Wash fresh herbs or citrus fruits and let them drip dry on paper towels. Avoid leaving any lingering moisture that could encourage bacteria growth
  3. Heat the olive oil and your desired herbs or other flavoring ingredients (see lists below for specific tips) for several minutes until the mixture starts to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat right away if it starts to smoke. Let the oil cool completely before straining and bottling it
  4. Pour the cooled oil into the fine-mesh sieve to strain out the flavoring ingredients. Using the funnel, pour the strained oil back into the glass container and seal it
  5. Keep the oil in the refrigerator and use it within three days*
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*Be sure to discard olive oils within three days of making them. Keeping infused olive oil past the three-day mark can harbor bacteria growth. 

Tip: Use one flavoring ingredient on its own, or mix and match two or more to create a more complex flavor in the finished product. 

Herbs and Spices to Try

Herbs
Cilantro, chives, dill, mint, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme 

Tip: Rosemary, thyme and other woody herbs can be heated directly in olive oil to infuse their flavor. The infusion method is the same as described above: heat oil and flavoring ingredients until bubbly, let the mixture cool, and then strain and bottle it. 

Tip: For a prettier presentation, put sprigs of woody herbs into the bottle with the cooled oil.

Spices
Caraway, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry, fennel seed, mustard, paprika, peppercorns, red pepper flakes (dried) and star anise 

Tip: Buy whole spices. Either use them whole to infuse the olive oil or grind them right before using them; this provides a more intense flavor in the infused oil. The infusion method is the same as described above.

4 Uses for Infused Olive Oils

  1. Dress up the container to give infused oil as a beautifully fragrant gift.
  2. Use infused oil as a dip for artisan-style bread.
  3. Toss infused oil with your favorite cooked pasta.
  4. Brush infused oil over chicken, fish or vegetables before grilling.

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